Ad Astra
Volume 15, Number 1 January/February 2003

Sharing the vision
By Brian E. Chase, NSS Executive Director

First, let me say what a privilege it is to serve as the new Executive Director of the National Space Society. Like many of you, I have been fascinated with spaceflight since I was young. Growing up in rural Texas, where you could see the vastness of the universe without the distraction of city lights, I dreamed of humans going to the stars—and of working to promote the exploration and development of space.

I had an opportunity to start working toward that dream as a cooperative education student at NASA’s Johnson Space Center while in college, and went on to work full time for NASA in Houston and Washington. After that exposure to the political process, I moved to Capitol Hill and served as a senior aide to newly elected Florida Congressman Dave Weldon handling space policy and media relations. That afforded me an opportunity to put my NASA experience to work fighting on behalf of space exploration, and taught me valuable lessons about the challenges of promoting a visionary space policy.

Following those years in Washington, I returned to Houston to work for United Space Alliance, where I learned the complexities of managing an operational, partially reusable launch vehicle and gained even further appreciation of the talented and dedicated men and women who work every day to safely get people to and from space. From there I returned to Congressman Weldon’s office, but this time in Florida to manage his district offices and his campaigns, and spent the next three years there until leaving in November to join the staff of the National Space Society.

I tell you all of this because I want you to share my vision for the National Space Society—and how I want to put my experience to work for you. We have always been a respected voice in the space policy debate, but I envision us going to the next level. Over the coming months you will begin to see more reports on what the National Space Society is doing in Washington to impact public policy. But, more importantly, you will read about ways you can get involved to impact legislation and have a direct influence on our nation’s space policies. We are YOUR voice, so I need your help if we are to be successful.

The Society will play a major role in many of the ongoing debates about our civil space program—such as ensuring research opportunities aboard the International Space Station, developing an integrated space transportation plan, and funding for advanced propulsion R&D. All of this is important so we can build the foundation for what will be the big debate—where we do go next, how do we get there, and why do we do it?

We will also continue to champion the emerging commercial space sector. The federal government will continue to be a partner in space exploration for the foreseeable future, but we must also ensure there are no unreasonable regulatory or legislative barriers to private sector opportunities. And while many of our efforts are focused on U.S. policies, we will also be mindful of international opportunities and potential coalitions to expand our presence in space.

The National Space Society has a rich history, combining the heritage of Wernher von Braun’s vision for a spacefaring civilization with the boundless energy of those from the L5 Society. We can— indeed, we must—recapture that energy, vision, and, most importantly, action, to make our dreams a reality and begin those journeys to the stars. Ad Astra!

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